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2005-09-03 - 9:12 a.m.

...the alarm clock of memory....

This past week marked the seventh anniversary of my father's death. It was an interesting sensation, because in a sense I felt as if I just looked up from the middle of working and thought, "oh."

In the years immediately following his death, I grew to associate it with my birthday, which is the week before the anniversary. Instead of its marking a celebration of my life, it began to mark a milestone - that I am approaching his life and fate. It made for a very dark couple of weeks where I fell into a funk, questioned the direction of my life, simply felt a paralysis. And, since emotional paralysis was a major feature in my dad's life, these two weeks seemed to prove that my becoming him was inevitable.

Another strange element to this funk was that I wouldn't always remember that the anniversary had come until I was somewhere in the middle of the funk. It's almost as if my mind has an alarm clock whose incessant buzz eventually stirred my memories and emotions awake. It started with dreams of my dad. And then I noticed that I'd mentioned his name conversation several times in one week, or that he'd crept into my thoughts. And then as the memory awoke, it was like a loud blaring in my head. But instead of frantically reaching for the snooze button, I would just let the loud blaring sound torture me until the alarm clock tired out.

This year has been somewhat different. I'm not in a funk. I'm happy. Oh, I have irritants in my life, but I'm happy, and optimistic, and looking forward. I feel the impact of age on my body, but I also recognize my body's endurance and health and power, its remaining capacity to heal and maintain itself. This happiness hasn't removed the clockwork of the memory, but it has dulled the painful sound that was always associated with it.

I wonder if my brother has the same internal clock mechanisms. We rarely talk about my dad. But this week, out of the blue, he said, "Every morning I wake up and I think about what Dad would do...and then I try to do the exact opposite." This suggests that he has the same fear as I do, although he approaches it differently.

The thing is, I look at my brother and I see similarities between him and Dad. They have the same physical reactions to stress. They have the same method of argumentation. I never tell my brother this - It would upset him greatly - and I am sure that he realizes that some of our traits are inescapable. But it is true that in some ways he's escaped - my brother rarely drinks. And he's forced himself to become a morning person.

Anyway, I am grateful to be functional this year, that I am spared the funk. I am grateful for optimism. I am grateful to remember that we can carry another's traits without reliving their fates. Maybe I could even make myself see the good side of what I've inherited from my dad. Maybe later.

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